How to get dog poop off your shoe
So, you've stepped in dog poop. And you weren't wearing those nice, convenient smooth-soled ankle boots, either – you had on your most ridgy-soled pair of cross-trainers, or the expensive snow boots guaranteed to grip icy surfaces (and, it turns out, other more icky substances).
The last time this happened, you put the shoe on the mud porch and went into denial until the seasons changed or your husband threw the shoe away by mistake – but you don't want to lose another Adidas to doody. Now what?
We interviewed civilians, pet experts, colleagues, and even fashion writers to find out what they do when shoe meets poo. Some of their answers came from left field (Play-Doh!), others from the junk drawer (chopsticks!), but we hope you'll find at least one solution that works for you.
Enjoy the great outdoors
Walking around outside got you into this mess – and maybe it can get you out. Pet expert Steve Dale recommends stepping in snow to clean shoe treads, or "wait until it rains" and let the puddles help you out. Reader Kizz also tries to take care of the mess "outside on the walk home. Scuff shoes on grass, the edge of a curb … sticks, or ideally on some mulch. Then rinse by shuffling through a shallow puddle or scuffing in some leftover cleanish snow." Other people suggested gravel as an effective de-pooper (reader Kristin uses a "neighbor's gravel driveway. In the dark of night so they don't catch me").
But it's not always that easy. Sometimes you get lucky and nail the poop with a flat-soled shoe. More often, you'll have complicated treads to clean. What next?
Reader Tylia reports that the best method she's used is "a pair of plastic gloves, a toothbrush you are NEVER EVER gonna use again, some dish soap and elbow grease." Our sources seemed united on the concept that letting the poop dry makes it harder to remove, not easier; you'll need a cleaning agent and a brush of some sort, whether it's the cheap toothbrushes your dentist gives away for free; a toilet brush; or one of those doorstop boot-scrapers. Reader Erin goes over her poopy treads with disinfecting wipes, "as though the sole were a washboard and the wipe were your dirty old-timey unmentionables," and digs out the remainder with a toothpick. (Our own Sarah Weir nominated chopsticks for this purpose.)
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Animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai places the "tainted footwear" in a disposable aluminum cake pan with water and bleach, lets the shoe soak, then goes after it with a stiff brush. You should probably wear rubber or work gloves during the brushing process – and, reader Leigh adds, an apron, as "toothbrushes tend to create spray when used too aggressively!"
Speaking of spray…
Apply (water) pressure
Several respondents praised the concept of using a high-pressure spray like a shower or sink attachment to get rid of dog dirt. Stephie advises using "the hottest water you can stand, with the most pressure you can find (or create with your thumb in the stream)," but a hose will do it too. If you do use a surface that comes in contact with dishes, children, or anything else you'd like to avoid contaminating, disinfect the surfaces after you're done.
And if you just can't bear to wash the shoe in the same tub your twins use? Fair enough: Try "one of those self-serve car wash things and have at 'em with the high-pressure line," says Cyntada. "Works like a charm!"
Put it on ice
CT and Rick both advised trying to freeze out the poop, either leaving the footwear outside in the cold in wintertime, or bagging it up and parking it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Rick watches a movie to pass the time, then takes the shoe out and whacks it against a brick wall (outside, please!) to knock the poop loose. "Not the most elegant solution," CT admits, "but it will keep you from having to touch anything icky."
And if the whack job doesn't get all the traces out?
Raid the playroom
Yes, we said earlier that you should avoid exposing younguns to fecal matter – and that's true. But kids' toys might just hold the key to removing that stubborn poop.
Reader Kate has gotten "decent" results using…Play-Doh and Silly Putty? Here's how it works: "Let [the doody] freeze, then cover with your choice of sticking agent (duct tape works best, but might damage some shoes). Pull off the tape, Doh, or Putty, and most of the poo will tag along with it."
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Let Maytag handle it
Elizabeth keeps it simple: in case of poo, huck the shoe in the washing machine. "Unless they absolutely can't be washed (but most shoes come out just fine) I just throw them in the washing machine."
You'll want to skip that trick if it's a leather shoe, or if you're squeamish about stray poop bits lingering in the machine.
And finally, the best defense is a good offense
Jessica of Go Fug Yourself thinks that a watchful eye is your greatest ally when it comes to pre-empting poop: "If you're wearing expensive shoes to which you are very attached, step carefully. Play defensive in this particular game."
And perhaps our favorite suggestion came from Audrey, who deploys a righteous youth brigade as a sort of neighborhood watch: "Tell your 5-year-old – or if one is not readily available, tell all the neighborhood 5-year-olds -- that dogs should never poop outside without a poop bag. Five-year-olds love to be the ones to uphold rules for others to follow. They will ride the dog owner all the way down the street, giving them the repetition of the rules that only 5-year-olds can deliver so well."
What's your tried-and-true anti-poo measure? Tell us in the comments!
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